Spoiler season is one of the best parts of the Hearthstone release cycle. There’s nothing quite like getting to preview the cards coming to the game to get the gears turning in our heads when it comes to generating excitement. It’s that pure time of the cycle before all those ideas that sound so good in our head get crushed by the reality of which decks in the meta end up being better.
Unfortunately we need to wait until November 21st to start seeing more cards, and yes, we still haven’t seen even half of the 140 new cards. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop me from thinking about what kind of decks could be fun to experiment with and build around when the expansion drops in December.
Not all these first-impression deck ideas are going to be strong, but they all look pretty exciting. The power level of some of these new cards looks exceptionally high and powerful cards inspire you to want to build decks around them. (Powerful cards may also end up oppressing and pushing out many other cards in the game, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it).
Nothing says big, flashy effects like a 4-mana 8/8 that sets both players mana crystals to 10, which is what Nozdormu the Timeless does. You get good stats on the board and, provided you build your deck properly, you should be able to utilize that extra mana better than your opponent to drop large minion after large minion and beat your opponent down.
The real issue with Nozdormu (beyond giving your opponent mana before you) is consistency: if you make a deck full of expensive minions, you can’t rely on drawing your legendary ramping dragon…unless it’s the cheapest minion in your deck and you play 2 copies of Call to Adventure. Now you’re effectively playing 3 copies of Nozdormu, allowing you to hard mulligan for it and get the reward regularly (and hey, now it’s a 10/10 a lot of the time).
Add in 2 copies of Duel! to help cheat out large minions from your deck and as a backup plan, and you’re on the way to cheating a lot of tempo. Double your fun with Blatant Decoy that pulls much larger minions for your than your opponent and you just might be moving Duel Paladin a bit away from meme territory. It’s probably still a meme, but this is getting us closer to a deck that can do something powerful consistently enough.
Hunter is getting a lot of cards that care about clicking your hero power button, and Phase Stalker looks like one of the best. You get a 2 mana 2/3 that threatens to continue to draw and play secrets each turn it’s on the board. Drawing cards and cheating mana are some of the best things you can do in Hearthstone, so packaging them together into a beast that loses no stats for its card text looks nuts.
You can back the card up with powerful tempo-based secrets and good stats in Hyena Alpha. Push early and get the board for aggressive kills or dominate the late game with Zul'jin swing turns. The reason I’m particularly excited for this hero-power synergy card is the beast tag, allowing you to play the powerhouse that is Master's Call.
It’s basically the old Midrange Hunter trying to leverage more of a secret package. While that might make it a decent deck by default, the question of whether it’s an improvement is an open one. If this doesn’t work, just go play all the good new Hunter cards (like Dwarven Sharpshooter and Dragonbane) in an existing Secret Highlander list and you’ll probably be fine.
Galakrond represents what we call “parasitic design.” This means that all the synergy cards for it exist within a single set. While there are some pros and cons to this kind of design, it does mean there will be decks that, for better or worse, simply jam in the new dragon and all the available synergy cards.
Zoo Warlock is a good candidate for a deck that will do just that because of how they work. The synergy cards have the keyword “Invoke” which, when played, will trigger the hero power of the hero card. In the case of Warlock, that means getting two 1/1 imps each time you play an Invoke card which – if Odd Paladin taught us anything – is quite good. Zoo likes board flood and drawing cards, and the new synergy cards do just that.
On top of enabling the usual list of board-based Zoo synergy cards, the new Invoke cards will also turn your Veiled Worshipper into a 4-mana 5/4 that draws three cards to keep your gas going in the mid- to late-game.
Warlock is currently struggling. It’s not known whether Galakrond, the Wretched will provide the support the deck needs to get back on track, but it does look like it holds a lot of potential.
Malygos, Aspect of Magic. If you’re holding a dragon, the upgraded spells it provides can rival those of Kazakus or Zephrys the Great, providing flexibility and power in the form of powerful removal, AoE, or burn finishers.
As Malygos needs dragons in your hand to be activated, the new Azure Explorer might provide us both an activator and enough redundancy with spell damage effects to start building around. (Deck-building tip: redundancy in effect means consistency in your deck and, accordingly, higher power. If you play enough of the same kind of effect in your deck, each card can begin to make the other, similar versions of it better. It’s not always a question of whether you want to play card X or Y if they’re close in effect, as you might just want to play both of them precisely because they’re close in effect). Lots of burn and lots of spell damage makes for a deck that could close games in a hurry.
While this deck feels unlikely to be a real competitor at first glance, I can assure you those big swing turns with spell damage will feel excellent.
It wouldn’t be a proper article if we didn’t talk about how exciting Rogue hero, Galakrond, the Nightmare looks. As its hero power is “add a lackey to your hand” – like EVIL Cable Rat – each of the Invoke cards will give Rogue a lackey, which has great synergy with any combo card in the deck and Heistbaron Togwaggle. Importantly, if you’ve invoked twice, the new Umbral Skulker will come with a battlecry of 3 coins in addition to its amazing art, which also activates combos, accelerate future plays, and draws you cards with the infamous Gadgetzan Auctioneer.
Put all this together and you have a deck that can potentially power cycle cards with ease, generate huge Edwins and Questing Adventurers (the namesake of Miracle Rogue, short for the fertilizer, Miracle-Gro), stay in the fight with all the tempo and resources generated by lackeys, and even out-value the greediest of control decks if you feel like adding in a Togwaggle’s scheme to shuffle in additional copies of Togwaggle himself.
It’s possible the best version of this deck may run the burgle package, especially given the new activator in [[Dragon’s Hoard]], but this one looks to be more emotionally satisfying to me as it reminds me of the days of the Classic era.